Rafael Nadal claimed his only Australian Open title in 2009, winning three of the previous four Majors and moving one step away from a career Grand Slam at 22! Nadal lost to Gael Monfils in the Doha quarterfinals and got off to a better start in Melbourne, defeating three opponents outside the top-70 in straight sets to reach the round of 16.
In the fourth round, the Spaniard beat world no. 14 and a former finalist, Fernando González, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 for another big step towards the trophy. Gilles Simon fell in the quarterfinals 6-2, 7-5, 7-5, and Nadal scored the Spanish semifinal with Fernando Verdasco.
It turned out to be an epic one, as Rafa prevailed 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 6-7, 6-4 after five hours and ten minutes in one of the most extraordinary encounters at Melbourne Park. Nadal won a point more than Verdasco, served well and was broken twice with only four break chances offered to his compatriot.
Verdasco gave 120% of him to stay in touch with the world’s leading player, rejecting 16 of 20 break chances and pushing Rafa to the limit. The older Spaniard fired nearly 100 game winners and more than 60 unforced errors, dominating Rafa in the longer exchanges but losing ground in the shorter ones by up to four shots.
Starting all over again in the decider, Rafa barely dropped a point behind the initial shot, mounting the pressure on Fernando and earning a break at 5-4 following a double fault from his opponent to advance to the final.
Nadal had to endure another marathon on his way to the title, even though he barely had anything left in his legs!
John McEnroe praises Rafa Nadal
On “tour” for a few weeks on the occasion of the release of his documentary, already in theaters across the Channel, John McEnroe distills a lot of clear-cut opinions.
Once again for the site Tennis365, the American raves about the resilience and state of mind of Rafael Nadal. “I have never seen anyone like him. I thought Jimmy Connors was trying hard until I saw Rafael Nadal, that’s insane.
And that is the greatest quality he has, by far. The guy is an amazing player, we all know that. But the fact that he can go out on the court and put in that kind of effort is something that people yearn for, but it’s very hard to do,” John McEnroe said.